The Doughnut Economy

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot. Now I’m no economist, but I can see that the conventional model must be replaced with one that is sustainable. We cannot keep using up our un-renewable resources, especially because alternatives do exist. We cannot live on credit; we must accrue real assets we can fall back on. And we cannot continue to ignore the complex issues of the poor; they must receive the support that will make their lives more secure.

We have seen that it is possible for the whole world to almost grind to a halt, and if we continue to live day-to-day, the next pandemic will be even worse for us. And we know it is likely there will be another.

A month and two days ago, on March 11th, COVID 19 was declared a pandemic. And that very day, Jorge and I began our voluntary isolation. We know we’ll still be at this for a while yet; and I admit it is taking an emotional toll. We talk a lot, and we wonder if humanity will learn anything from this experience.

“This experience” – what a weak term to describe the most devastating event of our era. There is not a single country that is not affected. There is nowhere to hide from COVID 19. As I write this post, 108,837 people have died, worldwide. Amongst my circle and on the internet, I hear rumbling and grumbling. According to the orange head-of-state who calls himself (choke, gasp, chortle) a “wartime president”, as soon as the pandemic has passed, “we should just forget about it right away.”

George Santayana, a late 19th – early 20th century philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. I strongly agree. I Once the crisis is over, I sincerely hope we will not go back to “business as usual”.

But must we have one political ideology? Why can’t we keep some of Capitalism’s drive and combine it with Socialism’s concern for equitable treatment for all. Why are some country leaders so scared of Socialism; many highly productive economies and stable political governments run on basically socialist principals.

I do not know what such a model would look like, but Amsterdam is giving serious thought to a new socio-economic model, and they are positioning to be one of several pilot cities.
You can read a lot about this novel approach, called, the Doughnut Economy, on several sites but none of them are a “lazy-day read”; all the articles I found are extremely detailed, but this one seems the clearest:  Doughnut Cities  By: Professor Herman van den Bosch, Professor at the Open University of The Netherlands.

Doughnut cities

It is a long read, but extremely interesting; following are a few citations from Professor van den Bosch’s writings. I hope you’ll pursue the entire essay.

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The doughnut economy

The model for a doughnut economy was developed by the British economist Kate Raworth in a report for Oxfam entitled A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The idea quickly spread throughout the world.


The essence is that social and environmental sustainability must be guiding principles for economic policy in the 21th century, and together, they will direct economic behavior.
There is no triple bottom-line: if social and environmental sustainability are in the lead, the economy follows.

The idea behind the doughnut model is simple. if you only look at the shape of a doughnut, you see two circles. A small circle in the middle and a large circle on the outside. The smallest circle represents the minimal social objectives (basic-needs) that apply to each country. The large circle represents the self-sustaining capacity of the planet. All societies must develop policies that stay between the two lines. Where economic behavior nowadays has far-reaching consequences that go beyond both lines, future economic policy must aim to make societies thrive between the lines.

Taking the doughnut principle as a point of departure, economic activities that overshoot the ecological ceiling or do not comply with the social basement need to be redesigned, or new sustainable and just activities have to be developed.

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Is your head reeling with the idea of so much change? It is a lot to take in, but building a 25 year time frame makes the goals reachable – not easy – but slow and steady wins the race.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

2 thoughts on “The Doughnut Economy

  1. During times of change, we are great at projecting our underlying agendas onto the screen of the future. The problem is that we are a diverse group of people, and no one future is going to please even a majority of the people. The Black Death destroyed feudalism because it killed so many people that the social and economic structure had to change. Workers became mobile and increased their economic value. It would be ironic, indeed, if this much-milder event put us back on what Friedrich Hayek called The Road to Serfdom.

    Jaja. All of that may come from watching Braveheart last night. My Phony Film Festival in The Steve Cotton Memorial Library moves on to one of my least-favorite movies tonight — Titanic. I may take a night off.

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    1. While it is true that “we are great at projecting our underlying agendas onto the screen of the future.”, I believe that in Mexico (and other parts of the world as well) the group of citizens with the most economic power are those calling the shots, and almost always, their decisions benefit themselves, to the detriment of an overwhelmingly large group of less advantaged citizens. I have worked “downtown” for many decades and I have traveled a lot in areas where the conditions are deplorable. This unequal set of advantages is notorious becaue we are not talking about access to frivolous products… we are talking about access to basic food, water, medical attention,and personal safety. The number of desperately poor Mexicans is often hidden from view but it is alarming. This is why I insist, that despite the advantages that wealth affords, it should never take away from those who already have so little. And the economic model we have and the corruption the model allows … in my opinion… cannot be allowed to continue. As a society,we must provide the basics to everyone. If we don’t do so, we are not the funtioning democracy we claim to be. As for serfdom is already the de facto situation for millions of impoverished Mexicans. We could speak more about this if you wish … you have my contacts…

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